1000 YEARS HISTORY OF GAVARA COMMUNITY IN ANDHRA PRADESH – Written by Dr Pilla Sri Ram, Visakhapatnam (Dedicated to the fond memory of my father (Late) Sri Pilla Appala Naidu of Vizag)
[Display of caste in public life is a sin – Observance of caste traditions in religious life is a boon]
1. Introduction: Hinduism is a belief, not a religion. Hinduism defined four Varnas to classify the section of people, to denote their nature of lively-hood duties. The four Varnas are, Brahmana, Kshathriya, Vysya and Sudra. The main duties of Brahmanas are protecting and propagating Hindu Dharma, Kshathriyas are to rule the kingdoms to protect the people, Vysayas are to do business and cultivation, and Sudras to do supportive duties to the general public. These were the kind of duties strictly followed in Hinduism in puranic “Bharata”. The history presents to us, that there are major migrations of people from one place to another, following the expeditions of their Kings or due to natural calamities or political conditions. The same history also reveals that, the migrated Kings and then people could not fit themselves in the traditional classification of Hindu society. This resulted in further classification of “Varnas” into “Jati” known as caste.
As per Oxford Dictionary, “Caste” is defined as “each of hereditary classes of Hindu Society”. The Word “Caste” is originated form Spanish or Portuguese “Casta”, which means “lineage” or “breed”. The Word Caste also means-Class, Degree, Grade, Level, Position, Rank, Status and Stratus. When the Aryans arrived in India, they introduced four terms, “Halika-Cultivator, Sethi- Merchant, Kolika-Weaver and Gadhika-Druggist”. Hence, prior to the era of Christ and soon after that, Hinduism is the only concept ruling in Indian sub-continent. Then came the Islam and Buddhism. These two major “Dharmas” significantly changed the social structure of Indian society. At the same time, frequent changes of kings (or rulers) in every pockets of India also triggered the dilution of mono-society into multi-pronged society. Hence, the system of Surya Vamsa and Chandra Vamsa, further split into sub-groups, based on Varna or Gotra. Further, to “Gotra”, the culture of “Surnames” also creeped into Indian society making sizable and multiple groups even in villages. This kind of splitting of Varna into Jati, Jati into Caste, and Caste into Sub-Caste, adoption of Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and finally Christianity resulted in the social concept of “Unity of Diversity” by the cause of Indian Freedom struggle. However, in my opinion, the British in-a-way helped integration of diversified and fractured Indian society into a systematic society, because of strong and peaceful freedom struggle lead by the leaders. Prior to this, even British are also trapped into the localized concept by way of introducing “Zamindari System”. This happened as they initially entered the Country as “East India Company” for doing business, and ultimately lead to looting of valuable natural resources of India. During this time, they are forced to recognize and trade with localized “so called rulers” who are already struggling for their existence during “French Rule” as Northern Circars. Prior to British Rule the French controlled major part of “Andhra Desa” in the name of Northern Circarsater, British introduced “Presidency” like “Madras Presidency” for entire South India.
These kind of multiple socio-political conditions imposed upon Indian society, which is basically an agrarian based collection of small Kingdoms, gradually changed it into an industrial entity. After the introduction of “Legislative” ruling in the Indian sub-continent, the British made it mandatory to get official approval for “Caste identification”, which is being continued in the present Independent India. Though the British used “Castes” for identifying different classes of people in the society, for extending some administrative benefits to the down-trodden, the same caste is know being used in all walks of life, which is not good for 21st Century Indian Society. In the following section, the evolution of “Gavara” caste is presented, for the benefit of knowing the origin and history:
2. Ancient History: Markandeya Purana mentioned that, Mala-dasulu and Gavara-varulu are Eastern Jati people. In Gouri Kulodbhavam, Sri Dadi Adinarayana Naidu of Rangoon wrote in 1936 (he originally belongs to Timmaraju Peta near Anakapalli) that Subahu, son of Dussaha (4th brother of Duryodhana) married Gowri, daughter of Dussala (sister of Duryodhana) a descendent of Kauravas, in the presence of Gods. Parameswara gave a boon, that the family of Gowri-Subahu will be called as “Gowra”. Coming to the history of Southern India, as per puranic and historic references, the Kauravas left Northern India as Pandavas took over the kingdom. In another belief, Hiranyakasipa had his kingdom in Ahobilam, near Kurnool and later Prahlada-Bali ruled these areas. The 6th son of Bali is “Andhrudu”, who is believed to have established Andhra Kingdom. In Buddhism, this area is referred as “Andha Karatta” (mentioned in Sutthanipata grandha). The term “Andhra” was first mentioned during 600 B.C. in “Iitireya Brahmam”. Vyasa Purana also mentions about “Andhra people”. In 300 B.C. Magasthanese, a diplomat from Greek visited this area during Maurya period and described a place “Andirae” between Godavari-Krishna Rivers. The first inscription to tell about Andhra People belongs to Ashoka (13th Sila Sasana).
3. Medieval History: Sri Karri Appala Narasimham (Bhasha Praveena) from Kirlampudi of E.G. District, made a detailed study on our History. In 1994, he wrote that the term “Gavara” is used as a person name (Gavarayya, Gavara Raju, Gavaramma), as surname (Gavara), places like Gavarapalem, Gavarapeta, Gavaravaram, Gavarla Anakapalli. One of the Kings in Satavahana Dynasty (during 44-66 A.D.) is “Gowra-Krishnudu”. Some inscriptions in Panchadarla, a heritage-pilgrimage place between Atchutapuram and Yelamanchili, mentions Gavara-Gollalu and Gavara Rajulu. He tried to explain “Satakarna” and “Gavara” words from English usage (eg. Gavara from Govern). The King ruling South is called as “Sir South” which gradually became as “Sri Satha” and “Sathakarni” from South corner. In the following para an elaborate historical review is given for readers’ information. The period of Satavahana Dynasty is between 271 B.C. to 174 A.D. (nearly 450 years). Before that there are Kings known as “Mehar, Dharma Soka” from Naga Jati, Kubera form Yaksha Jati, Nisambhu from Dravida Jati, Sri Andhra Maha Vishnu from Srikakulam in Divi of Krishna and Deepa Karni (foster father of Satavahana King). As per the story, Deepa Karni is a friend of Kubera, who doesn’t have children. As he is worried, Kubera suggests him to go to forest, where he will find a boy riding on a Lion. This Lion is “Sathudu” a Yaksha who took birth as Lion due to a curse. He had a boy but the mother expired after giving birth. So, Deepa Karni adopted the boy, who was later known as “Satavahana” (the boy who was riding on a Lion named Sata) and also known as “Satakarni”, as Deepa Karni adopted him. The reference to these Kings will come later in Gavara history.
Not dwelling much into general history, let us turn into Gavara history. The district gazetteers of Vizagapatam and Godavari Districts published by British during 1901-06, States that Gavaras are originally from “Vengi” dynasty situated near Penugonda in the present West Godavari District. There is an interesting story on the origin of Gavara as a sub-caste from Komati. The word Komati has originated from “Gomati”, as river Godavari is known as Gomati in Sanskrit. The people living in the surrounding of Godavari River are usually called as Gomatlu, which later transformed into Komatlu, during the ruling of Tamil Kings (Chola Dynasty). In Tamil, G and K letters are pronounced same. Again coming back to general history of Andhra Desa, after Satavahana Dynasty (271 B.C. to 174 A.D.), Vengi Chalukyas (200 – 254 A.D.), Pallavas (254-630 A.D.), some dynasties by Brihatpalayam, Ananda gotraja, and Vishnu Kundinilu. Then Eastern Chalukays (624-1076 A.D.) had a longest dynasty followed by Kakatiyas during 973-1323 A.D, followed by Kamma rajyam, Musunuri Nayakas, Recharla Padma Nayakas and Kondaveeti Reddy Kings during 1325-1448 A.D. Then came Rajamahendra Vema Reddy Kings during 1402-1542 A.D. and Boya Kings (Telinga and Bhanja Vamsam) during 1542-1575 A.D. At the same time Vijayanagara Kings of Karnataka (Tungabhadra) ruled during 1336-1680 A.D, Nayaka Kings (Tanjore, Madurai and Mysore Nayakas) during 1535-1761 A.D. At the same time, Kutub Shahis’ ruled Andhra Desa during 1512-1687 A.D. They were known as “Andhra Sultans”. Then came “Moghuls” during 1687-1724 A.D., which later gave parts of Andhra to French, who ruled them under Northern Circars. Later, British came and ruled during 1800-1947 A.D. In addition to these dynasties, there were smaller Kings or rulers and settlements during French rule and Zamindar’s during British rule. Because of so many changes in socio-political situations, and also due to the influence of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity, the local Hinduism in Andhra Desa has undergone so many changes. In addition to the above influences, the languages (Sanskrit, Tulu, Tamil, Oriya, Kannada, Urdu, French and English) played their own role in changing the social and cultural scenario. Coming back to Komati people in Godavari areas, there was a famous story happened during 10-11 centuries A.D, regarding a God-Blessed child known as “Vasavamba”, best described in “Kanyaka purana” of 16th century, written by Bhaskaracharya. The Eastern Chalukya King, Vishnu Vardhana (Vimaladitya Maha Raju of 1010-1018 A.D.) wanted to marry a komati girl, named “Vasavamma” daughter of Penugonda local King Peda Komati Shresti (Kusuma Shresti). Vasavamma, her parents and Komati people of 102 gotras (out of 714 gotras) objected to it and sacrificed themselves in fire-pits. This Vasavamma ultimately is known as “Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari”. The remaining 612 gotra people split themselves into 3 main groups initially and later into many sub-groups. Three major groups are Gavaras, Kalingas and Traivarnikas (third caste men). Since, many Gavara people are agrarians or business people, they are usually known as Gavara-Komatis. The British suggested that since Komati word does not represent a caste, the Komats of 102 gotras are then resolved themselves to be known as Vysyas.
4. Exclusive Gavara History: On a broader side, there are 2-3 historical records, clearly written about Gavara Community. (1) In a nut shell, it talks about Gavaras migrating from Vengi to Pudimadaka. (2) The British did major study on Gavara Community, its culture and professional skills. In the present study, it is attempted to bridge some gaps in above events and ensemble more clear picture on Gavara history. The major gap observed in the Vasavamma episode happened during 10-11 Century and the Gavaras being invited by the King Payakarao of Anakapalli during 15th Century. So, there is a clear gap of about 500 years. An attempt is made to fill the gap, by using some of the historical developments and changes that took place between 10th and 15th Century in this area. The Vasavamma incident might have happened during the ruling of Vimaladitya of Eastern Chalukays (1010-1018 A.D), however, the next King Raja Raja Narendra (1018-1066 A.D.) became very famous and peace and tranquility persisted in Andhra Desa. Hence, during Vasavamma incident, the remaining 612 Gotra people of Komati might have left Vengi, but could have settled around Northern part of Andhra Desa towards Vizagapatnam or Kalinga. However, after Raja Raja Narendra, the Andhra Desa faced many turmoil and attacks. Later, Kakatiyas and Reddy Rajus ruled this region, but faced regular threats from Muslim rulers and Kalingas. In the District Gazetteer of Godavari District published in 1915 by F.R. Hemingway, there is an interesting historical event, which happened between Rajahmundry and Tuni during 1322-33 A.D. The second Pratapa Rudra of Kakatiya Dynasty ruled Vengi area. He nominated two brothers, Pedda Malla Raju and Chinna Malla Raju, as Viceroys, who held their court with great pomp and luxury at Bendapudi in Tuni Division. In 1332-33 A.D. Pratapa Rudra had himself to interfere, since the cultivators refused to follow their occupation and fled the Country. During this incidence the Gavaras might have sailed to Pudimadaka from Pentakota situated in the borders of Tuni Division. The two wicked Viceroy brothers were later killed by Raja of Cuttack (the Ganga King of Kalinga). The above incident found to fill the historical gap between Vasavamma incident during 10th Century and the cultivators migration from Tuni Division during 1332-33 A.D. Geographically the distance between Vengi and Pudimadaka is about 200 Kms (by Sea) while the distance between Tuni Division and Pudimadaka is around 60 Kms. In those days it is reported that there is a canal link between Vadrapalli (Kondakarla) and Sea (from the place where rivers Sarada and Varaha meet the sea). Vadrapalli got its name from Vadapalli as people came by boats (in Telugu Boat is called as Voda). Later on, due to severe weather conditions and due to sandy soil, they might have moved upward into main Land along the canal and settled in “Gavarla Anakapalli”, where good cultivation is possible. Observing the dignity and dedication of these Gavara cultivators, the King Payaka Rao (Kakarlapudi Appala Raju) had invited them to the present Anakapalli during 1611-1626 A.D. The present Gavarapalem in Anakapalli, was constructed during this period and still going strong after 400 years. However, during French rule (17th Century) and British rule (18-19 Century), the Gavaras again migrated to many areas (either on personal interest or on instruction by the rulers) for the sake of doing good cultivation. They have even migrated to far off places like Sri Lanka (Ceylone), Malaysia, Indonesia (Jawa), Rangoon and South Africa. Prior to French and British rule, the Gavaras even migrated to Madurai and down South during Chola (Tamil) and Tulu (Kanada) rule. Some more history will be given later, as another interested topic is described below:
5. Gotra- Surnames of Gavaras: When Varnas are split in to Jati and later into Kula (sub-caste), Gotras played a significant role. Gotras are believed to denote the “lineage” of the Kula. While Brahmins believe that their Gotra represent a Rishi, for others it is believed as the Gotra or name of their Kula Guruvu or Kula Purohit. Particularly, in case of Komatis, they tried to leave Vaidic Traditions and follow Dravidian tradition. This disintegration of major Jatis into Castes further divided with the Surnames. Surnames denote the names of some places (Vengi to Vegi), names of profession (Setti for business) or names of Kings or Kingdoms (Ellore to Ellapu) etc. The classification of Gavara Surnames is given below; Surnames originated Surnames originated Surnames originated Surnames having from Satavahana King from Buddhism from Buddhism Setti Names Places Pilla Tekkali Rapeti Surisetti Koneti Pentakota Penugati Marisetti Malla Kandregula Yellapu Atakamsetti Yellapu Molleti Tanakala Petakamsetti Sarisa Vegi Sarakanam Silaparasetti Kalla Rajagiri Parimi Polamarasetti Doddi Villuri Guddali Bheesetti Boddeti Kurla Kodela Bheemisetti Peela Korumilli Bheemarasetti Konathala Badisetti Buddha Kanisetti Polimera Aitamsetti Gavara Regusetti Alla Maddala Adari Sadaram Koilada Karri Dadi Sri Karri Appala Narasimham also gave the following details on how some Surnames are originated from Satavahana Kings. Surnames Origin from Satavahana Kings Pilla Sisuka Koneru,Koneti Kanheri Malla Malla Satakarni Yelaga Alahaka Sarisa Sri Saata Kalla Aapaada Baddha Doddi Skanda Stambi Boddeda, Boddeti Lambodara Saati Peela Apitika or Apeelika Konathala Kuntala (of Kanvas) Polimera Pulonar (Puleman) Vikramarka Alla Karthala Satakarni Maddala Mandawk Buddha Soumy Satanu Madeti Suka (Puthra Sukasena) Dadi Dandasri The above tables give good relation to the historical names and places. It was observed that, the Surname cannot be taken as unique of a caste as the same Surname is found in other castes also.
6. Comparison of Common Surnames and Gotras in various castes: Surname Gotra in Gavara Gotra in Kapu Gotra in Viswabrahmin Gotra in Kamma Gotra in Kshatriya Gotra in Padmasali Gotra in Settti Balija Karri Narella Kandala Aarantha Chennoolla ——– ——- ——- Kandregula Mouktika ——- Vasudhrma ——- ——- —— Dananjaya Korumilli Tarkhya ——– Kasyapa ——- ——– ——- ——- Dadi Janugula Chettinolla ——– ——- ——– ——- ——– Surisetti Yanukula Vellatla ——– ——- ——– ——– ——– Maddala Satagopa Shatala ——– Vipparla ——– ——– ——– Alla Souseelya ——– ——– Alpuri, Vallatla, Gurijala ——– ——– ——– Vegi Kashmira ——– ——– ——– Dhanunjaya ——– ——— Molleti Soujanya ——- —— ——- ——– ——– Kashapa Kalla Mouktika —— ——- ——– ——— Sridhara ——- Bheemasetti Sutra ——- ——– ——— ——– Vimala ——– Madeti Manjula ——– ——— ———- ——– Maareecha ——– Some Surnames like Pilla, Alla, Kalla also exists in other Castes like Telaga and Brahmin. It was informed in Viswabrahmana history that, many Surnames are drawn from a single Rushi and Gotraja, some examples are as given below. Rushi Gotraja No. of Surnames Viswagna Brahma Suparna 220 Twashta Brahma Ahabuna 108 Mayi Brahma Sanatana 126 Manu Brahma Kashyapa 96 Saanaga 85 Like this for 5 Brahmas and 125 Gotrajas, there are 2185 Surnames in Viswabrahmana caste. Thankfully there is limited number of Surnames in Gavara. Since, Surnames changes in Tamilnadu from generations to generations, it would be difficult to know their origin in Andhra Desa. During Dynasty periods there is a tradition of bigamy, which also results in splitting of same Surname or Gotra into several families. For the children born of parents from different castes, they are known as “Toppasse” (French word). Further, there is a tradition of childhood marriages in those days which may also hamper the Caste traditions. The above conditions may make it difficult in tracing the family trees or makes its difficult to have a concrete idea. Hence, it is inferred that the mention of some Surnames in ancient records (Sila Sasana) can not be simply attributed to a particular caste or sub-caste as it varied over a period of time.
7. Gavaras referred in Historical records (before independence): a) In Upmaka (near Nakkapalli-Tuni) Venkateswara Swamy Temple sthala-purana, it was stated that Sri Krishana Bhupaludu the king of Kandregula Sansthanam of East Godavari Dist. constructed the Temple during 6th Century A.D. It was mentioned in Kshetra Mahatmayam. b) In 998-999 AD, King Saktivarma of Vengi appointed ‘Dadi Bheema’ in his administration and some lands in Penugonda (near Tanuku) were given to him. c) 16th Century: Sri Kakarlapudi Appala Raju (ruler of Anakapalli during 1611-1626 AD whose later generations known as Payakarao) invited Gavaras residing in Gavarla Anakapalli to build a township in Anakapalli, which is the present Gavarapalem in Anakapalli. d) 17-18th century- Northern Circars: In 1770, Kandregula Jogi Pantulu was granted lease of Antarvedi, Divi and Nizampatnam. In 1807, Kandregula Joga Rao was given Divi on lease. e) 1777 AD: In Arabupalem, near Munagapaka, Boddeda Saibu (s/o Mallunaidu) and his wife Chellaiamma built Ramalayam and donated 36 acres for the temple. f) 18th Century: Bheemisetty Appalanarasimham built Parvatha vardhini –Siva temple near Nagulapalli and donated 20 acres land. g) 1888: Ms Pilla Gangu (called as Chamanti), a dancer, was donated Jaggampeta, Tadaparti and Timmapuram by Lova Sanyasi Raju. By that time, she already owns 1/7th Divisions of Peddapalem by 1884 (borders of Vizagapatam and EG Dt). h) 1920: Sri Yellapu Narasiah and sons had 600 acres of land in Kirlampudi of EG Dt and started so many social works. i) 1922-23: Sri Pentakota Sreeramulu Naidu (of Munagapaka) and Sri Boddeda Atchinnaidu (of Arabupalem) started Co-operative movement. j) 1927: The first Gowrikula maha jana sabha was conducted in Anakapalli by Sri Pilla Appala Naidu. At that time, he was a doing jaggery export business. Later his son Sri Pilla (Peda) Paradesi Naidu restarted the activity in 1944 and laid foundation stone for Gowri Sangam in 1946. k) 1938: In the APCC committee report submitted by Sri B. Pattabhi Seetaramayya (Publ: 21-7-1938), it was reported that Sri Pentakota Sree Ramula Naidu presented a case against Chemudu Zamindar (of Anakapalli) and Sri Malla Jagannadham against Kasimkota Zamindar. l) 1931: The first municipal Chairman of Anakapalli from our community is Rao Saheb Sri Buddha Mahalaxmi Naidu in 1931. Prior to that he also served as District Board Member. m) 1943: Gowri Yuvajana Sangam was started in Anakapalli and Sri Madeti Samba Murthy was its President. n) Freedom fighters: (Published in Visakha District Freedom fighter’s book) i) Karri Appa Rao, Anakapalli ii) Maddala Tatam Naidu, Anakapalli iii) Pentakota Brahma Naidu, Bhimavarapukota, Tuni iv) Dadi Rama Murthy, Vaddadi v) Bheesetti Appa Rao, Anakapalli (MLA) vi) Karri Satyanarayana Murthy, Yelamanchili vii) Karri Kannaiah, S/o Burraiah, KDPet (Alluri Gang) o) Pentakota Sree Ramulu Naidu (of Munagapaka) participated in Visakha Zilla Zamin Rytu Mahasabha on 3-11-1922, held at Anakapalli along with Sri Mallu Dora (follower of Alluri Sita Rama Raju) and Sri Mantheswara Sarma. p) Sri Pilla (Peda) Paradesi Naidu of Anakapalli fought against British along with Smt Bharati Devi Ranga.
8. Anakapalli Gowri Sangam: It was established on 20-6-1943, under the president-ship of Sri Boddeda Atchiyya naidu. Founder President is Sri Dadi Bhogalingam and his team is Sri Malla Jagannadham, Konathala Appala Swami, Konathala Jaggappala swamy and Buddha Veeru Naidu. Special mention to Sri Korukonda Lingamurthy garu (Vysya leader), who persuaded all to unanimously give fund from Anakapalli Merchant’s Association. The foundation stone for Sri Gowri Parameswari Temple is laid by Sri Pilla Peda Paradesi Naidu, President of Akhila Bharata Gowri-kula Mahajana Sangham. (End of Part-I) Gavara or Gaura is a desi word, it means businessman. “Gavara” is a community wellversed in agriculture, trade business and finnance.
The word Gavara orginated from Gowri because they worshipped Gowri Devi the consort of Lord Siva as their tutelary duty.In Mahabaratha, “Gowri” the daughter of king Dussala married Subha, the son of one kauravas and thus their lineage came to be termed as “GAVARA” or “Gaura”.Gavara Community setteled orginally at Vengi at Andhra Pradesh then they travelled to “PUDIMADAKA” by sea route and settled at near places of Achutapuram, Vadrapalli, Haripalem, Mungapaka, Anakapalli and Vishakapatnam. During the period of Kakatiyas, on high offices tex held by Dadi and Kaniesetty families in the military Department of kakatiyas. Records of the kakatiyas shows, Dadi Gannmayya, Dadi Somayya, Dadi Veerayya are Officers.
Dadinadu the present kaikaluru in the krishna District seems to be the original home or the Dadi families and later spread to vizag, Tamilnadu Nnd karnataka.
There is strong belief in gavara families that the kings in madhura,Thanjavur and Vijayanagar, belongs to Gavara Community. Tirumalayya’s grand son, Chokkalingam Naidu married Mangamma the daughter of Vijaya Raghavanayaka of Tanjavur. The Rules of Tanjavur,Tiruchirapalli and madhurai were the Varanaidus of Andhra Pradesh noticed by Thurstron.
Gavara women had their own tradition in wearing the neck ornaments named Kultigants, heavygold rings to nose and ears and big size single bangle named Kadiyam to fore arms.
The pandy country went by the alternative name “GAURI NAIDU”The information available in aTamil word by name Minaci (Minakshammai) Mardhurai. Songs were sung mostly by Tamil tadles before the Goddess in doestic functions.
Some of the surnames of Konathala and Vegi having their traces of connection with Tamilnadu and Vengi.
Collection by BJSK PAPA RAO